Marquette Wire

OVBIAGELE: Start a revolution, Zimbabwe

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When Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe walked hand in hand with visiting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad into a press conference in Zimbabwe last Thursday, eyes rolled.

Both are tyrannical leaders who hate the West, and for the two to be seen in public further isolates the already devastated Zimbabwe.

The visit coincided with the 30th anniversary of Mugabe’s presidency. He has been Zimbabwe’s only president since the country gained freedom from British rule in 1980. This makes Mugabe one of Africa’s longest serving leaders. Talk about being clingy.

After seeing the two at the conference and thinking about Mugabe’s ongoing rule, I wondered why the people of Zimbabwe have subjected themselves to a failed leadership for so long.

Mugabe turned a one-time economic powerhouse into a nation dependent on food aid. And now, life expectancy is about age 35, with an unemployment rate of 80 percent. Mugabe has ruined Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwean story is as much a case of bad followership as it is of bad leadership, a characteristic pertinent to most African countries. Citizens of these African countries have failed to realize that any government is only as strong as the electorate/citizens make it.

Without a system whereby people believe and respect the powers of governance, there’ll be no leader. And in this age, tyrannical leaders must not be tolerated. Citizens must vehemently revolt, especially when they’ve had the same president for 30 years. No leadership can be that good.

Although, in 2008, there was a sudden realization of this civic responsibility when Zimbabweans protested the general election result that forced Mugabe’s closest rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, to pull out of the run-off elections because of death threats and pressure, understood to be from Mugabe.

But after Mugabe made opposition leader Tsvangirai prime minister in a unity government attempt (a government made up of two opposing parties, which I must add has proven to be a complete failure), citizens of Zimbabwe were again silent.

And to dictators and power mongers, silence means acceptance. Where is a revolution when you need one?

Zimbabwe was a country referred to as the agricultural hub of Africa in the ’80s. But now economic bankruptcy, thoughtless policies and unholy corruption have cast a dark cloud over the nation’s future.

And Zimbabweans owe it all to one man: Robert Mugabe. Never before has a single being been so effective in squandering the wealth of an entire country. And he doesn’t seem to be going away soon.

Zimbabweans’ and the international community’s passive hopes that death and pressure will end Mugabe’s reign of terror have fallen short for the past three decades, as the leader’s now 86 years old.

The people of Zimbabwe need to act. They can’t simply wait on nature or external pressures to oust Mugabe.

Citizens who’ve been tied down by ageless dictators and illegitimate governments must be able to revolt when warranted.

This is the only way to make sure the likes of Mugabe never take advantage of nations. The people themselves must employ drastic measures to serve as a deterrent.

And for many Africans, the will to revolt is always truncated by the question: Who will be on the frontlines of a civic revolution? Everyone backs down when he or she consider the harms of whoever controls the armed forces.

This is why historically, guerilla groups and ethnic militias are the only ones who go head to head with standing governments. But mercenaries in countries like Congo become power thirsty and relegate the very needs of the people they claim to be representing.

For an uprising to be truly altruistic and revolutionary, it must be orchestrated by the people, and most importantly, non-violent.

There will be losses, setbacks and deaths, but the people must persevere. No pain, no gain. Throughout history, the resilient, non-violent masses have never lost against tyrannical governments.

Food For Thought: Fear the man/woman with a resilient heart, for even guns can’t kill his or her vision.

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